1. Outside the Brunei Gallery building at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, there is a sad little plaque.
“The University of London hereby records its sincere apologies that the plans of this building were settled without due consultation with the Russell family and their trustees and therefore without their approval of its design.”
2. The plaque, including its “wording, size and materials specified” was a condition of SOAS obtaining land from the University of London in the summer of 1995.
It was erected later that year. The then secretary of SOAS, Frank Dabell told the Times that “the plaque – its wording, size and materials specified – was a condition of their receiving the land from the university, a transaction completed earlier this summer”.
3. The building itself isn’t even that bad. It won an award!
“Underneath the apologetic notice is a plaque noting that the actual design of the building was never really an issue: it won a Civic Trust Award 1988. The Trust awards ‘do not simply reward good design, but also take into account the way in which schemes relate to their settings and to the people they serve’.
Essentially, the only reason the plaque is there is as a point of principle.”